Now then. I did a rare thing and used the third drop-down translation; "Vicious" because although "Mean"="Vicious" in the USA it is fraught with problems and anomalies in the UK and it is unfortunate that DUO invariably uses American English even if this can cause problems, (I'm mindful of the scores of people using this site for whom English is a second language). I am surprised, given the context (we're speaking of a dog here, not a human and therein is a major problem) "Vicious" is only the third choice of the translations suggested, but would more often than not be used to describe a dangerous dog. The other two were "Mean" and "Malicious". I would surely use Malicious to describe an act rather than a person or animal and I feel this too is an unfortunate choice fraught with problems not only for those whose English is a second language but also for those whose English is not American. (Please don't report me to the Un-American Activities Bureau).
I entirely agree with you. There are some words that, with effort, one can imagine an American using, and one knows — from painful experience — that that is what must be used if one wants a quiet life. However, "mean" in this context would simply never occur to a British speaker. Is it really something that an adult American would say about a dangerous dog? Time to throw some tea into the sea, I think.
I'm American but I live in France right now teaching children and "méchant" is used all the time to mean "naughty". While I have occasionally heard it in a more negative tone implying something more serious like "mean" or "nasty" I typically hear adults (or even kids) say it to children who have done something bad (like cheating during a game or drawing on another kid's paper) but not bad enough to warrant an actual punishment or talking to (like pushing or hitting or calling names).
I have asked this questions many times and in many places over the past year of study but have yet to find the answer...how do I say "my cat/dog is naughty" if I am not allowed to use the word "méchant" for "naughty" in this particular instance? Thank you in advance!
So i used naughty as well and was marked wrong. I read that the context does matter a lot. So when it is an animal it needs to be vicious, which is a word for mean etc.. So how would you say that your dog is naughty ? And how do you say that a human is naughty ? Like when your parther for example teases you and you tell him he is a bit naughty for doing that, are you still supposed to say méchant?
No, not at all. Mean usually means cruel or unkind. An older, but not often used, meaning is to describe someone who is mean with money, which implies they don't like to spend it, particularly on other people..
Naughty implies "bad", but not in a very bad way. For example a child can be called naughty, or a pet such as a kitten or puppy you are fond of. Naughty behaviour can be a nuisance, but not in a harmful way.
I think it depends on the context. Naughty is a word with a lot of nuances. Here are some translations of naughty and different contexts from Google translate:
vilain ugly, naughty, nasty, dirty, wicked, horrid
méchant wicked, bad, nasty, evil, mean, naughty
coquin naughty, rascally, kinky, roguish, saucy, pert
polisson naughty, roguish
pas sage naughty
désobéissant disobedient, naughty, disorderly
grivois saucy, bawdy, ribald, salacious, naughty, blue
paillard bawdy, ribald, dirty, smutty, naughty
bonnie.sjoberg - Elsewhere in the comments sections on Duo knowledgeable native French speakers warn against trusting Google Translate's translations -- apparently it is notorious for error.
The Collins French-English online dictionary makes a distinction in meaning when méchant is used with children as opposed to when used with people generally. It seems to say that only in reference to a child would you translate this as 'naughty'. When referring to adults it indicates the meaning is stronger, it uses the term 'nasty'. Also, when méchant is used with animals, it says the meaning is 'vicious'.
And the Larousse dictionary says that when speaking of a person méchant means wicked.
Duo is a programme and Bad may not have been added. In my less than perfect French, for Vicious I would have used Viceux, but Duo's programmers have their ideas and please understand that although it does have its little flaws, it's free and one will get no better from Babbel (eg) for £400.